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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: May ::
What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0505  Friday, 26 May 2006

[1] 	From: 	Carol Barton <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 25 May 2006 10:46:43 -0400 (EDT)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0497 What happens to the Fool in _Lear_

[2] 	From: 	Scott Sharplin <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 25 May 2006 17:48:31 -0600
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0497 What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Carol Barton <
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Date: 		Thursday, 25 May 2006 10:46:43 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 17.0497 What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0497 What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?

Noel, I like Hardy's (ague) solution. I think also that if we recognize 
the Fool as Lear's first advisor (a fool leading a madman who hasn't yet 
made his madness obvious) it's possible to cast him as extraneous 
personnel, simply wandering off (like Lear's mind) without any 
particular motive--"banished" benignly because he, like Lear's other two 
best advisors (Kent and Cordelia--who will suffer more violent 
dismissals) is no longer useful to the king in Lear's own misjudging mind.

I think if I were playing the Fool, I would adopt an expression of 
extreme sadness, maybe even an obvious tear, and walk backwards, away.

Best to all,
Carol Barton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Scott Sharplin <
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Date: 		Thursday, 25 May 2006 17:48:31 -0600
Subject: 17.0497 What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0497 What happens to the Fool in _Lear_?

In the production of Lear I recently directed, the actress playing the 
Fool acquired a shiver and a cough during the storm scenes, leading 
informed members of the audience to suspect that she would be too weak 
to follow Lear upon his exit in 3.6.

Indeed, this was the case, and she lingered upstage during Edgar's 
soliloquy, fighting for breath. However, just before Edgar exited (and 
the intermission began), he paused and went to collect the Fool in his 
arms, carrying her off with him. I felt this was a nice action to 
support his spoken discovery, i.e. that he had recently learned to 
empathize with others.

The Fool then disappeared (convalescing somewhere, presumably) until the 
very final moments of the play. At this point, Lear has died, and 
Albany, Edgar etc. proceed offstage, leaving the bodies. Kent lingers 
this time, and grabs a knife (the "smoking" one the Gentleman brought 
in). He clearly intends to kill himself, following up on the implication 
of suicide in "I have a journey, sir, shortly to go."

Re-enter the Fool, first noticing Lear (and Cordelia's) death, and then 
stepping downstage to intercede with Kent's suicide. By sharing their 
pain, the two of them find the strength to carry on, and exit the stage 
together.

It sounds a bit trite when I write it out, but I think it made for a 
very potent final image. Audiences were pleased to see the Fool again 
one more time, especially after the uncertainty of the line, "And my 
poor Fool is hanged."

(As I've said before, I don't think it's worth giving Lear much credence 
when he speaks this line. It comes just after he has declared Kent "dead 
and rotten," so it's fair to say the king has thoroughly lost track of 
who is dead and who's alive.)

Scott Sharplin

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